That One Night

A young, brown-haired man with chiseled features sat at a small desk sprawling mundane notes into loose papers and small leather-bound books. In the right corner of the table was a small brass candle-holder, complete with a tiny candle softly spitting out flames. The man muttered to himself as he softly scratched his written word onto one of the yellowing, worn-out pages in the leather-bound tomes directly in front of him. The sudden banging at the door broke his focus, bringing him back to reality.

“Yea, what is it?” he gruffly called out towards the door—he wasn’t pleased with the sudden interruption and he made that obvious with each word he spoke. He tilted his head towards the giant wooden door directly behind him, dropping his quill into the jar of black ink besides him. He glanced out of the metal-framed windows, trying to see who it was at this hour.

“Sorry for disturbing ya Liarv, know ya hate it but, Jiare requested your presence. Full uniform. She’s at the gallows,” a gravelly voice echoed as the figure bearing it shifted uncomfortably. A brief moment later, they finally departed, leaving Liarv alone to his musings once again.

“Noted,” he grumpily replied to nobody in particular. The shabby chair scraped loudly against the worn-out hardwood planks as he got up. He strode across the barren room towards a thin, wooden wardrobe and swung it open. He hastily adorned his full uniform: a thin, black cloak; a snug, sleeveless leather vest with ornate white tunic underneath; a brown belt with sheathed dagger, various vials of liquids, small cloth bags, and a decrepit wooden stake; sharp, dark blue trousers neatly tucked into hardened-leather lace-up boots; sleek, leather, fingerless gloves that extended down to his wrist and a single, gold cross dangling around his neck that centered in the middle of his chest.

After putting on his gear and lacing up his boots, he grabbed the lantern hanging from the door and walked over to his crude desk, roughly pulling open the top-most drawer. He grabbed out a small set of flint and steel, holding it in his right hand, as he turned a small, metal knob on the side of the lantern; a faint, hissing sound softly emanating from it. He opened the small, creaky hatch of the lantern, sticking the flint and steel inside. After a few moments of rubbing the two together, a roaring flame came to life inside the lantern. Liarv promptly withdrew his hand and closed the door, sealing it shut.

He dropped the flint and steel back onto the desk with a soft clatter. He walked over to the door, grabbing the key-ring off the hook and jamming the lone key into the lock. He turned the key inside, as it unlocked with a loud clang. He pulled open the door and stepped out into the crisp night, lantern in-hand, illuminating the night-sky. Slamming the door shut behind him and locked it, Liarv attached the key-ring onto his belt-loop with ease. He began running down the cobblestone path, each step echoing loudly behind him.

The night was dimly lit with tall lantern-posts located every couple dozen feet, with his lantern doing the rest. Liarv could see flickering figures behind frosted, metal-grated windows. A faint smile shown underneath his stony expression. They were all safe under Jiare’s watch. She vowed to protect all of them from the monsters of the night. They could rest easily knowing that they would be safe.

In front of the stone jail, propped against the wooden beams of the gallows-tree was a tall, slender figure dressed in a similar attire. She had her hood pulled down low, with arms and legs crossed, favoring her right leg, as she clasped a small book. Her dark black eyes intently followed Liarv as he ran towards her.

“You are late,” the figure harshly berated Liarv. She shifted her stance, idly pushing off of the gallows into a more formal stance, leaning more on her right leg as she softly winced in pain.

“My apologies Jiare. I was not expecting to be called this late at night,” Liarv dejectedly replied, lowering his head shamefully, as he stepped in front of Jiare, mimicking her formal stance. “Are you alright? Do we need to get the doctor?”

Jiare pursed her lips as she pulled down her hood. She quickly closed the distance between the two of them. “I will be fine, however, is this how it will be when you are responsible? You will be late to help someone in need, from a monster?” she reprimanded, looking up and down Liarv’s outfit. “Your uniform is also wrong. Unbutton your vest. Straighten your dagger. I should not have to tell you this Liarv! We are monster hunters, not drunkards. What is the matter tonight?”

Liarv maintained his plain expression as he stared at Jiare whilst fixing what she scolded him about. “Nothing. Like I said, I was not expecting to be called out here tonight. I apologize for my incompetence,” he monotonously replied. “And, no, it will not be this way when I am responsible. I swear that much.”

“It better. Do you wish to know why I called you out here tonight of all nights Liarv?” she angrily asked him. Her eyes were like daggers—violently ripping and tearing into Liarv with each passing second. She stepped closer to him, leaving barely any space between the two of them.

“No, I do not,” Liarv calmly muttered.

Jiare painfully shook her head. “First your uniform. Now you are failing to see the obvious. Stop lying to me Liarv. What is the matter? What has you so distracted?” she firmly inquired. Unlike her tone, her face softened as she spoke, the daggers slowly subsiding.

Liarv imploringly glanced up at Jiare before staring off to the side. A pained expression quickly streaked across his face as he winced. “Nothing. Nothing at all,” he bitterly mumbled. It was a blatant lie.

Jiare nodded. “I will not press if you do not wish to speak. As for why I have summoned you tonight… I have summoned you because as you may know… I am dying. I was bitten on my last hunt by a G’rialk. I do not know how much longer I have to live and I wish to see my parents before I should pass. I cannot continue to guard the village, which means you must in my stead. I must know, do you vow to protect this village with your life?” she painfully muttered, pulling up her right trouser-leg, revealing a bloody and bandaged wound.

Liarv breathlessly stared at the wound. “B-But…” he stammered before falling silent. He stared off silently in the distance, lost in thoughts. “I do. I do vow to protect this village with my life.”

“My journal is now yours, may it help you in your journey. This village is now under your watch,” she bitterly replied. Jiare stared at Liarv with a painful expression as she thrusted the book she carried into Liarv’s hands.

Before Liarv could protest, Jiare ran off into the ever-consuming void of the night. He was alone, and it was now his duty to protect the village. He choked back a few tears before setting off, back towards his house once again. This village was now his. He was the only one responsible for its safety. Only he could protect it. Nobody else would, but him…

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